Artificial Intelligence developments: the year in review

TechCrunch, a popular site dedicated to technology news, has published a list of the the top Artificial Intelligence news of 2016.

2016 seems indeed to have been the year Artificial Intelligence (AI) left the confinement of university labs to come into public view.

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Several of the news selected by TechCrunch, were also covered in this blog.

In March a Go playing program, developed by Google’s DeepMind, AlphaGo, defeated 18-time world champion Lee Sedol (reference in the TechCrunch review).

Digital Art, where deep learning algorithms learn to paint in the style of a particular artist, was also the topic of one post (reference in the TechCrunch review).

In May, Digital Minds posted Moore’s law is dead, long live Moore´s law, describing how Google’s new chip can be used to run deep learning algorithms using Google’s TensorFlow (related article in the TechCrunch review).

TechCrunch has identified a number of other relevant developments that make for an interesting reading, including the Facebook-Amazon-Google-IBM-Microsoft mega partnership on AI, the Facebook strategy on AI and the news about the language invented by Google’s translation tool.

Will the AI wave gain momentum in 2017, as predicted by this article? I think the chances are good, but only the future will tell.

How to make friends, influence people and, ultimately, conquer the world

A recent report on The Economist about Facebook makes clear that the ever-present social network is now more, much more, than simply the sixth most valuable company on Earth and the (virtual) place where humanity spends a significant fraction of its time.

What started simply as a social network, doomed to perish (many believed) as many other social networks, turned into “one great empire with a vast population, immense wealth, a charismatic leader, and mind-boggling reach and influence“, according to The Economist.

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But, more relevant to the topic of this blog, is the fact that Facebook has amassed immense knowledge and created the tools necessary to explore it, in the process making enormous sums of money from targeted advertising.

As artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics advance, companies like Facebook and Google can explore better and better the troves of data they have, in a process that may end up with the engines behind these companies becoming truly intelligent and, who knows, even conscious. Maybe one day Facebook will become not just the place to meet friends, but a friend. The investments made on chatbot and virtual reality technologies certainly show that we have not yet seen all the social network can do.